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Will Silicon Valley's Unicorn Herd Grow or Shrink in 2016?

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This story appears in the December 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You’re not hallucinating: Unicorns are indeed running wild across Silicon Valley. Once rare, unicorns -- startups valued at more than $1 billion -- are now shockingly commonplace: As of this writing, venture capital database CB Insights counts 141 companies with a cumulative valuation of $506 billion. They include Uber (valued at $51 billion), Airbnb ($25.5 billion) and Snapchat ($16 billion), as well as Chinese electronics company Xiaomi ($46 billion) and Indian e-commerce marketplace Flipkart ($15 billion).

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These unicorns are disrupting the disruptors, transforming the ways startups do business. While private companies once fiercely guarded their financial information, many fundraising announcements now spotlight valuation data. Even The New York Times, historically a voice of reason, compiled a list of 50 upstart companies projected to become unicorns. The unicorns of today, meanwhile, are grazing on established tech giants in pursuit of talent: Uber and Airbnb have poached Google employees with the promise of fast-paced workplace cultures and potentially massive payouts.

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